News

Christian doctor’s discrimination claim slung out by employment tribunal

A CHRISTIAN adoption adviser dismissed for refusing to recommend same-sex couples as suitable parents has lost her claim for religious discrimination.

Christian bigot Sheila Matthews got short shrift from an employment tribunal and has been lumbered with the costs of her frivolous case

Dr Sheila Matthews, 50, from Kettering in Northamptonshire, lost her job with the county council when she asked to abstain from voting in same-sex cases.

She told her employers Northamptonshire County Council she felt children “did best” with heterosexual parents.

The employment tribunal, sitting in Leicester, dismissed the claim.

Concluding a two-day hearing, regional employment judge John MacMillan said she had no case against the council.

The complaints of religious discrimination fail and are dismissed. This case fails fairly and squarely on its facts.

He added:

In our judgment, at least from the time of the pre-hearing review, the continuation of these proceedings was plainly misconceived… they were doomed to fail. There is simply no factual basis for the claims.

Mr MacMillan said there was no evidence that Matthews was treated differently from any other panel member who might request to abstain from voting, or that she was specifically discriminated against on the basis of her Christianity.

He said the issue “transcended the boundaries of all religions” and ruled that Matthews should pay the council’s legal costs.

A district judge will decide what amount of costs should be paid by Matthews to the council at a county court hearing on a date to be fixed.

During the hearing Matthews, who was dismissed from the adoption panel in April last year, told the tribunal the Bible was clear that:

Homosexual practice is not how God wants us to live. As a Christian, my faith leads me to believe that marriage between a man and a woman in a faithful monogamous sexual relationship is the most appropriate environment for the upbringing of children.

Matthews told the tribunal she first began researching the issue of same sex adoption after attending a training course on gay, lesbian and bisexual parenting in March 2004.

I believe a same-sex relationship is not the best, most healthy, environment in which to raise children. The overarching principle of adoption is to seek the best interests of the child who has already experienced disadvantage.

After the hearing, Matthews said:

Everything is open to be considered, I’m not making any sort of decisions right now. We need to mull everything over very carefully. I wouldn’t have brought the case if I felt we were destined to fail.

Nontheless, it is reported today in the Telegraph that Matthews will be allowed to continue to examine potential adoptive parents for the Council to ensure that they are medically fit.

But she will no longer have a say in whether the child should be adopted by the couple, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Matthews, urged the council to see “further sense” and allow her to vote in cases involving heterosexual couples and abstain in the case of homosexuals.

A council spokesman said there was no objection to Dr Matthews advising the panel.

However we have told Dr Matthews that she cannot continue to act as a full member of the adoption panel with voting rights as she is not fulfilling the full duties of a panel member by refusing to vote on adoption issues regarding same sex couples.

This simply isn’t good enough, said the rancid Andrea Minichiello Williams, from the Christian Legal Centre:

We are hoping the council will see further sense and allow Dr Matthews to remain a voting panel member… with the freedom to abstain on the rare occasions where placement is proposed with a same sex couple.

30 responses to “Christian doctor’s discrimination claim slung out by employment tribunal”

  1. Broga says:

    Well, well. I think Dr Matthews will be very hurt and upset by this. How could that nasty judge ignore the bible? With her views I wouldn’t want her examining me. The persecution of christians will flare again. A few more results like this, with the religionut picking up the tab for costs, and they might be more likely to be constrained with the bounds of common sense.

    Where is her god in this? What is he doing sitting on the sidelines and letting his fans take a hammering time after time?

    Improved my morning anyway.

  2. chrsbol says:

    We are hoping the council will see further sense…..

    I’m afraid the council has seen sense and the sooner you do the better.When is this nonsense going to end? Like Broga says time after time(song in there somewhere)they challenge reason and reason wins, hopefully.Still she had the foresight to have her photo taken with her cardie matching the flower!

  3. Graham says:

    @Broga
    Perhaps her god is too busy recently with all the christians being killed by muslim lunatics in Iraq. Or is it he simply doesn’t exist.

  4. Harry says:

    The complaints of religious discrimination fail and are dismissed. This case fails, your religion fails and your face is made of fail. Epic Fail!

    That’s the feeling that line gave me at first.

  5. Broga says:

    This will either make you laugh or cry. I was in the Newsgaents with my wife this morning. An elderly woman is looking at the Matthews report and says, “I just don’t know what is happening in this country. We seem to have no christian values left. What will happen to us when they have all gone?”. She addresses this to the shop but focuses on my wife, the only other woman there. (Bad move by the christian.)

    “If you are asking me, I think there will be less persecution of gays, more equality for women, an emotionally healthier generation of children not indoctrinated with religious nonsense which destroys their ability to think and generally much less conflict and more peace in the world. Bit what do you think?, says my wife.

    “Well I never heard the like,” says the woman clearly flustered and rushes from the shop with her paper.

    “She didn’t pay for that paper,” says the newsagent.

    “There’s christian values for you,” says my wife. “They can’t even be trusted to pay for a newspaper.”

  6. Angela_K says:

    A good result, I’m pleased the council did not cave in and defer to religious nonsense. Why don’t these religious idiots admit what they really want: a State sanctioned privilege to be a bigot.

  7. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    If you’re not willing to do the job, resign! It really is that simple. There is no room for bigots any more and religion should have no special privileges.

    @broga, I love your wife’s attitude, way to go 🙂

  8. Stuart H. says:

    Sorry, but as I’m used to the tricks bored press photographers get up to I can’t stop laughing at the picture.
    Isn’t that a pansy in the background behind the homophobic doc?

  9. Broga says:

    @Graham Martin-Royle

    Usually a somewhat gentle woman I think my wife was stung by a christian attitude that is all too prevalent. This attitude is underpinned by a smug, overweening confidence that assumes that as soon as they mention being christian they will be accorded special respect. The christian woman, like many of her ilk, was undoubtedly expecting either a complicit “tut tutting”, a sad shaking of heads or agreement. They expect this without discussion, with no regard for facts and merely on the basis that they have declared their christianity.

    Having no sense of the wider view, and expecting that their sanctimonious comments will be accepted without back-up, they declare their opinion. Like this woman who made sure all heard her. She was therefore shocked that anyone, particularly a woman I suppose, should challenge her. Richard Dawkins comments on this assumption of respect when clergy, often scientifically ignorant, are invited on discussion programmes. A more extreme example was in the 1925 Tennessee “Monkey Trial” when the clownish fundamentalist witness said that anyone who had read the bible knew more science than all the scientists in the USA.

    The attraction of they “I know it all because I am a christian” attitude is that they do not need to develop and excercise the intellectual discipline required to do serious study. They remain shallow, ignorant and mouthy.

  10. AngieRS says:

    Good decision. Let’s hope there are many more like that.
    @Broga, nice one 🙂

  11. The Woggler says:

    Speaking of shallow, igorant and mouthy people, there is a priceless admission from Stephen Green here* http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press169.html
    that religion is an example of ‘social conditioning’.

    *I drop by occasionally to remind myself how sane and sensible I actually compared to some people.

  12. Neuseline says:

    Good to read that common sense rules occasionally.

  13. Marcus says:

    How many cases must that be that the Christian Legal Centre has lost on the bounce? (Falls about clutching sides in a fit of laughter.)

  14. Broga says:

    @The Woggler

    There is one thing you may say about Stephen Green: he is consistent. That is consistently bigotted and ignorant. And definitely mouthy.

    As for Quentin Letts, the darling of the blue rinse brigade of the Daily Mail, where his pieces pass for biting social comment, he fulminates from the wrong pulpit to be taken seriously. He calls Bill Bailey cowardly because Bailey doesn’t attack muslims. The real cowards are our milk sop government who fail to protect adequately any one who criticises religious fanatics. Salman Rushdie ended up in hiding from these same fanatics for writing a book very few of them had the ability to read.

    You might think Letts as a journalist would be in able of robust free speech instead of yelping about it.

  15. Stonyground says:

    If she was citing the Bible to help her case, she can be proved wrong on just so many counts. Firstly that she ignores practically all of the ridiculous and archaic rules in it, apart for the one that allows her to persecute a minority, that one, and only that one, is totally non-negotiable. Second, does she not know that as a woman she is not even allowed an opinion and is supposed to shut up and do as she’s told?

    The fun part is that the CLC keeps on throwing money at these cases and consistantly losing, they don’t learn very quickly do they.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Re Quentin Letts and Bill Bailey: Someone posted this on another site today, and the general consensus, again, was “If they object so strongly to these films, etc, why the bloody hell are they obsessed with giving them so much free publicity?”.

    http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/the-kids-are-all-right.html

    (PS I thought it was a spoof review until I checked it out for myself.)

  17. JohnMWhite says:

    From that Christian Voice piece:

    “There is a sense in which Bill Bailey’s attacks on the person of Jesus Christ are a compliment – in the Oscar Wilde sense that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

    I’m sorry, but did Stephen Green just compare Jesus Christ to Oscar Wilde?

  18. Daz says:

    However we have told Dr Matthews that she cannot continue to act as a full member of the adoption panel with voting rights as she is not fulfilling the full duties of a panel member by refusing to vote on adoption issues regarding same sex couples.

    Damn right! As I said the other day, there’s no telling how many other prejudices she’s not declaring, or even, to be fair) consciously aware of allowing to influence her decisions.

    Broga, your wife is brilliant! (Good news about the bike, too. I share the same view on MZs.)

  19. JohnMWhite says:

    Daz, the same could be said of anyone. Unfortunately bias and just taking a dislike to someone is a common human frailty and it can influence very important decisions. Someone having a bad day and not liking the look of someone else for no real reason can utterly wreck their life, if the person doing the disliking has the power to make an important decision. That’s terrible, but I’m not sure how that can be eliminated without removing the human element entirely. However, in this instance, she made her prejudice plain and it is one which would interfere with her job and unfairly discriminate against a section of society. So she has to go, and I can see why the judge ordered her to pay costs to the council, because she really can’t have imagined she had a genuine case. This is all just bluster to make herself a martyr and her lawyers clearly are far more interested in promoting ideology than winning cases. I hope they did her work pro bono, because to me it seems they used her for their own ends.

  20. Daz says:

    JohnMWhite:

    Sure, I didn’t mean to imply that prejudices are a religiot-monopoly, just that while most people see them as undesirable, and when they become conscious of their own, tend to at least try to ignore them in such situations. Religions, on the other hand, tend to give people an authoritative rationalisation for acting on them (as long as you pick the right passages from the holy book in question).

    Obviously I can’t talk about the actual case, but I saw this at first-hand, when I did jury service. The two jurors who most obviously prejudged were those who were the most obvious about being christian. Oddly, they were also prejudiced in opposite directions, yet both quite openly tried to show their opinions as biblically correct. It wasn’t a fun two days…

  21. Broga says:

    @barriejohn

    Why they are so obsessed with aspects of life, nearly always sexual, if they are so repelled is interesting. Perhaps for the reason so cogently discussed in the book “The Pope is not Gay” – they are emotionally immature and struggling to cope with deeply repressed feelings. Nature will win and if the feelings cannot be dealt with in an adult and mature way then they will surface in a perverted mode.

    @Daz. Thanks for your comments on my wife. In the interested of fairness she told me she had called in at the Newsagent this morning and he said the christian woman returned and paid for the newspaper.

  22. Pete H says:

    @Broga

    Excellent story about your wife in the newsagent. My wife also made me proud yesterday.

    I was at a funeral, and afterwards was looking at the flowers outside when I overheard the vicar/minister behind me talking to another one of the mourners, who was a teenager, I think.

    The minister asked him whether he was religious, and then “do you believe in heaven?”

    The fella said something to the effect of “I don’t know, I think we go somewhere”, etc.

    Hearing this, I hoped he wouldn’t move on to ask those questions of me, although I was prepared to be honest, but polite if he did.

    I do have a reputation for being quite dirct in discussions on religion, and can quickly become agitated and forceful when responded to with illogical religious claptrap.

    With that in mind, as soon as my wife heard the “heaven” question behind her, she said “I think we’ll go over here…” and started to move away, with an additional “… because it’s getting a bit chilly standing here.”

    I wouldn’t have disrespected the occasion by getting into a debate with him – and I suspect he wouldn’t either – but it was probably for the best that she got me away from there anyway, just in case. 😀

    She was very pleased with herself when I told her later that I knew exactly why she had done it. 😀

  23. Broga says:

    @Pete H

    I do understand the pressures. It is one thing to shout the odds here but another when surrounded by religious pressures, particularly from close family, who believe because they have never thought about what they are “signing up to.” Our son’s (an atheist) best friend (an atheist) succumbed to family pressures to have his first baby christened. He said afterwards, “Never again. I had forgotten just how nonsensical is the stuff they unload.”

    Neither of my children were christened and we got hitched in a registry office.

    My fundie USA relative, from whom we severed contact some time ago, said, “If only you would meet this wonderful pastor he would soon help you to see the truth.” That was a long time ago now but had it happened that would have been an interesting discussion. The pastor would have been more likely to see “the truth” than me.

    Next, bit off topic, but worth it, I hope. A letter in “New Scientist” (20th Nov) comments following an article on “churchgoers seeming to be happier.” The writer says, “…this could be interpreted as ignorance is bliss. While secular thinkers struggle with reality true believers have no such problem as they ‘know’ they have the answer.”

    With the freedom of the internet, the growing confidence of atheists and best selling books by authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, Sam Harris and many others that ignorance is becoming increasingly difficult to acheive and those who sustain it feeling and being more beleaguered by the day.

  24. Pete H says:

    @ Broga

    “ignorance is becoming increasingly difficult to acheive and those who sustain it feeling and being more beleaguered by the day”

    That’s an excellent way to put it. It really is becoming harder and harder to defend the ludicrous position of religiosity. Some of the convolutions required to reconcile their beliefs with common sense and reality are simply bizarre.

  25. Buffy says:

    Good. Religiots need to stop letting their chosen lifestyle interfere with their work. It’s not “persecution” for an employer to expect an employee to actually do the job their hired for.

  26. revjimbob says:

    She looks a bit like the “computer says no” woman from Little Britain.

  27. chick-a-boom says:

    Re: relations with believers. I find that while I am happy to make earth-shattering pronouncements online, say about the evils of Islam, and how burkas are the work of the devil (metaphorically!), if I actually meet a person in a burqa or whatever I have pronounced against, I simply cannot be rude or impolite to them or even ignore them pointedly. I have concluded that this is not because I am two-faced. It is because I am opposed to certain abstract principles or political systems, but not to individual people.

    Case in point. Several of my family friends are strongly religious. I met some who were Xian evangelicals in Germany. Yet I count them among my staunchest friends, to whom I would turn in time of trouble, and I think the reverse is also true. Go figure!

    It’s a bit like Xians about gays: love the person, hate the sin. Except that the two cannot be separated, as far as I can see.

  28. tony e says:

    chick-a-boom,

    Ref relations and religion

    My oldest mate is a evangelical christian. He genuinely worries that I will go to hell when I die. Whilst we do not agree on the afterlife, he is the first person I would turn to if the shit hit the fan.

  29. Milz says:

    @revjimbob
    omg yer she does!

    and right on to the judge….good bit of judging there, he can have a cookie!

  30. Vanessa says:

    I thought the whole litigious victim mentality was limited to here in the States. Alas, I see that’s not the case.

    Nothing like someone who seeks to bully and deny human rights to a minority claim that their rights are being violated when they can’t.